About my baking challenge

I discovered the joy of baking for the first time ever in 2013, shortly after my dear mum passed away from cancer. During 2014 I tried to bring these two things together in a positive way , have fun and raise some money for Ashgate Hospice in Chesterfield where my mum passed away. Throughout the year I tried out new techniques and recipes from time to time ... and then sold some of my bakes for charity in my workplace. Since then I have continued to bake with some ups and downs .. and this blog charts my baking experiences, good and bad!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ombre Cake

Hi everyone,
I haven't been feeling too inspired in the baking department recently .. probably down to lack of time ...  but last Saturday my good friend Christine had her 40th birthday so I thought I should take this golden opportunity to branch out and try something different ... preferably with a bit of  a "wow factor"!

I had seen various blog posts about "rainbow cakes" and liked the idea in one sense, though in another the thought of eating such vibrantly coloured sponge made me feel a little apprehensive ... so I decided to compromise by trying a pastel ombre cake.

I wanted multiple layers, so I decided to purchase and have a go with Wilton's Easy Layer Cake Pans, from Lakeland.

The set will make a 5 layer 6 inch cake. It also has a recipe leaflet which included a rainbow cake; but as this was an egg-white cake (which I've never made before) I decided to play safe and use a Victoria sandwich cake mix instead, so I used a 4-egg mix based on the number of eggs used in the set's recipe leaflet.  I also decided to go for a buttercream icing rather than my first choice of cream cheese frosting, on the basis that this would be less problematic for transportation if the birthday girl wanted to go round visiting friends and relatives :-)

Ombre Cake

For the cake:
4 eggs (weighed) - mine weighed 236 g
Same weight as eggs for each of self raising flour, caster sugar and butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Up to 40ml milk
Food colour pastes (I used Sugarflair pastel pink and lilac)

For the icing:
500g icing sugar
250g butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Edible decorations (eg. hundreds and thousands) to finish.

1 * Wilton Easy Layers Cake Pan set, or 5 individual 6" sandwich tins.

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 C(fan)/gas mark 4. Prepare the cake tins by greasing and possibly lining the bases with baking parchment.

2. Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl until very pale and fluffy.

3. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture a little at a time, beating well to combine. Add the vanilla extract, then gently fold in the flour (do not overbeat or the cake will be tough). Add the milk a little at a time and combine gently until the mixture reaches "dropping" consistency. 

4. Divide the mixture evenly into 5 bowls, and add the food colouring to achieve the shades you desire. Spoon mixture into baking tins and smooth the tops. Bake in the preheated oven until firm and springy to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean (approx 12-13 minutes).

5. Cool cakes in tins for approx 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. 

6. Meanwhile, make the buttercream icing by beating the butter until very pale, light and fluffy, then adding the icing sugar in stages and beating well. Add the vanilla extract and beat well.

7. Before assembling the cake, cut off any browned edges if necessary to reveal colour of sponge. Place a small swirl of buttercream on serving plate or  board and then place darkest coloured sponge on top. Spread thinly with buttercream then place the next sponge on top, and repeat until all 5 sponges are neatly stacked.

8. Using a large offset palette knife, spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the sides and top of the assembled cake to form a "crumb coat". Chill in the fridge for an hour.

9. Spread the rest of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake to completely cover, and swirl with a large palette knife. This is best achieved using an icing turntable. 

10. Sprinkle with edible decorations (I used pastel confetti dots) to finish.

I thought that the Wilton cake pan set was a really good idea; but having tried it I'm not so sure. The sides of the tins aren't very straight which made it difficult to line even the base; and the sides of the cake did burn a bit. The recipe leaflet in the pack was not very helpful as the recipes in English all used American cup measurements, so I had to find a French or Spanish equivalent and do my best to work out the equivalent grams! :-(    In the end I didn't actually use a recipe from the leaflet; thought their suggested cooking times of approx 17-20 minutes were WAY over the top ... I looked after 12 minutes and could already see some browning!

Essentially this cake was very easy to make if somewhat fiddly, and it's fair to say it generated more washing up than anything I've ever baked before!! The most difficult bit was stirring in the food colouring ... I had read that I must definitely use gel or paste to get a good and consistent colour, but I found it extremely difficult to distribute evenly and was rather worried that I was beating all the air out of the batter!  On reflection I also didn't get much of a colour difference between layers 4 and 5, even though the batters looked a bit different in the pans before going in the oven. 

I tried using an old icing turntable inherited from somewhere but it wasn't very successful as it couldn't really take the weight of the cake ... so a new one is now near the top of my baking wish list!

I did get to try a slice of this cake as Christine very kindly saved some for me, my husband and my dad :-), and if I'm totally honest I would say it was a bit more dense than I would have ideally liked ... but not so much so as to make it a failure and it certainly did look very pretty and have the wow factor!! Overall  I was pleased with this as a first attempt, and my friend did make some very kind comments about my efforts :-)

I'd like to enter this into this week's Bake of the Week hosted by Linzi, whilst Helen at Casa Costello is on holiday.

Casa Costello

Also I would like to enter my effort for this week's #CookBlogShare hosted by Lucy at Supergoldenbakes

That's all for today ... 


  1. Wow, that's a mega bake. Thanks for linking up to bake of the week with such a beauty

  2. Wow this looks impressive! Shame the tins weren't very good. And sounds like the recipe book was no help at all! But none the less it looks like it was a success! #bakeoftheweek

  3. Looks like you've got your baking mojo back I love the matching pastel sprinkles you used to adorn the cake. Very pretty.

  4. Gorgeous cake - fit for any birthday definitely has plenty of wow factor. I have made this once for my daughter's birthday and it such a monster of a cake. Lots of work. Thanks for linking to #CookBlogShare – check out the other entries on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/supergolden88/cookblogshare/
    and Google+